The best of Hereford
PUBLISHED: 00:16 24 January 2012 | UPDATED: 20:57 20 February 2013
In the first of a series looking at the riches the region has to offer Chris Poole visits the city that offers charm, culture and great shopping
Even a cursory glance at a map of our region will reveal one inescapable feature that the city of Hereford lies at its geographic centre; a hub attracting people from around the region for its services, recreation, education facilities, cultural and sports events and, above all, the shopping.
Looking at the city as a shopping centre shows a repeat of the bigger picture. At the citys heart is the range of retail outlets that most would expect to see in any town of a decent size. But radiating out from the centre you find the hidden gems the independent shops and restaurants that make Hereford different, and special.
Those who dont know Hereford (and some who do) are surprised by the charm and character of Church Street. Together with nearby East Street this is where to start your search for shopping with a difference. The Map Shop has been here for more than 15 years. Assistant manager Emma Bingham says of Hereford: It may be small but its full of character and charm. Nearby, at The Cooks Haven, Ali Baker explains, not everyone knows we are here. The street needs to promote itself. And so it is with an initiative to draw attention to Herefords Historic Shopping Quarter.
That sentiment is echoed by Sarah McLean, manager of View, a boutique for stylish ladies wear. Church Street really surprises people, even those who have lived in Hereford for years. This year, with the Three Choirs Festival, the street will really come into its own for the thousands of visitors the event attracts.
The quality and range of shopping, though, spreads out much further through the city. Along King Street and Bridge Street there is Pritchards menswear, for example, the Apple Store Gallery and close to the Wye Bridge, Satin and Silk for sumptuous bridal wear. In the other direction, on Widemarsh Street, relative newcomer Henryka offers silver and amber jewellery and out along the Brecon Road you can find all that is excellent in high-fidelity at English Audio, renowned not just for the quality of the equipment but for its attention to customer service.
A short feature such as this cannot possibly do justice to all of the independent restaurants and shops that Hereford has to offer. You just have to visit it, explore it and enjoy it.
Estate agent Joanna Cobb says: This is the time of year for town and city properties. Hereford has something for everyone from smaller homes in town suitable for young couples to much larger family homes. The pretty rural properties that surround the city will start attracting attention as spring begins to show the countryside off to its best advantage.
The pattern of Hereford as a regional hub repeats itself here too. Hereford College of Arts, Hereford Technical College and Hereford Sixth Form College are known throughout the region for the range and quality of courses on offer. With a beautiful and much loved cathedral at its heart it should come as no surprise to find that there is a prestigious school associated with it. Within the newly restored Cathedral Close, Hereford Cathedral School can, rightly, be proud that alongside the tradition it produces some of the best examination results in the county.
Art galleries, museums and a library form part of Herefords heritage. The Courtyard Arts Centre on Edgar Street is the centrepiece for performing and visual arts in the city. More than a theatre, the Courtyard has a cinema and exhibition spaces regularly offering diverse performances and events.
The city has its main museum in Broad Street with more specialised exhibitions at The Old House, Coningsby, the Cider Museum and the Waterworks Museum. The Mappa
Mundi and the Chained Library are at Hereford Cathedral.
Main roads A49, A438 and A465 all meet at Hereford. Although railway lines once radiated out more widely from Hereford the city remains well served with mainline links south to Newport and South Wales, north to Shrewsbury and beyond and east towards Worcester, Birmingham and London.
SatNav co-ordinates for the city centre are HR4 9AU